Kira Robinson had the celebration of a lifetime when trying on her new pointe shoes. However, these weren't just any new shoes for the University of Oklahoma ballerina. Robinson was extremely excited about her new shoes because they matched her skin tone.
As a Black ballerina in a predominantly white space, it is difficult for Robinson to find pointe shoes that match her skin tone. For the last two years, she's had to blend her makeup foundation to better fit the shoes that she was wearing. Thankfully, she won't have to do that any longer, but it is troubling that she had to do it all.
"Sometimes it's frustrating and annoying, but it's just how it is," she told Good Morning America.
"The dance world is slow to accept POC (person of color) dancers, and I've just had to deal with it and do what I need to do to perform."
Robinson also recorded herself trying on the shoes and her reaction went viral. Bringing in nearly 500,000 likes on TikTok, the video showed her excitement and it allowed others to see a young, Black woman represented in a predominantly white field.
"I received a lot of comments on my TikTok about how representation is super necessary in the dance world and how a lot of people don't have that or see that often," she explained.
Dance companies like Suffolk and Capezio have responded to the Black Lives Matter movement by broadening their product lines to fit a diverse consumer base. As shown by Robinson's TikTok, a pair of brown satin shoes may not mean something to someone else, but that was never the point. Offering pointe shoes for dancers with darker skin tones create moments like this and invites in another group into the world of ballet.
"I think we are seeing more diversity in products because of the Black Lives Matter movement," Robinson said.
"A lot of people were fed up with companies' lack of effort in diversifying their brand and it has taken a long time to see that change. Many have signed and sent petitions to ballet brands to create more colors in their products, and Suffolk was one that heard our plea and started making those changes."
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